Variation in Neonatal Nutrition Practice and Implications: A Survey of Australia and New Zealand Neonatal Units

Gemma McLeod, Shelley Farrent, Melissa Gilroy, Denise Page, Colleen J. Oliver, Fiona Richmond, Barbara E. Cormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Significant global variation exists in neonatal nutrition practice, including in assigned milk composition values, donor milk usage, fortification regimens, probiotic choice and in methods used to calculate and report nutrition and growth outcomes, making it difficult to synthesize data to inform evidence-based, standardized nutritional care that has potential to improve neonatal outcomes. The Australasian Neonatal Dietitians' Network (ANDiN) conducted a survey to determine the degree to which neonatal nutritional care varies across Australia and New Zealand (A&NZ) and to highlight potential implications. Materials and Methods: A two-part electronic neonatal nutritional survey was emailed to each ANDiN member (n = 50). Part-One was designed to examine individual dietetic practice; Part-Two examined site-specific nutrition policies and practices. Descriptive statistics were used to examine the distribution of responses. Results: Survey response rate: 88%. Across 24 NICU sites, maximum fluid targets varied (150–180−1); macronutrient composition estimates for mothers' own(MOM) and donor (DM) milk varied (Energy (kcal.dL−1) MOM: 65–72; DM 69–72: Protein (g.dL−1): MOM: 1.0–1.5; DM: 0.8–1.3); pasteurized DM or unpasteurized peer-to-peer DM was not available in all units; milk fortification commenced at different rates and volumes; a range of energy values (kcal.g−1) for protein (3.8–4.0), fat (9.0–10.0), and carbohydrate (3.8–4.0) were used to calculate parenteral and enteral intakes; probiotic choice differed; and at least seven different preterm growth charts were employed to monitor growth. Discussion: Our survey identifies variation in preterm nutrition practice across A&NZ of sufficient magnitude to impact nutrition interventions and neonatal outcomes. This presents an opportunity to use the unique skillset of neonatal dietitians to standardize practice, reduce uncertainty of neonatal care and improve the quality of neonatal research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number642474
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021


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